With the Los Angeles Lakers looking to find at least one more All-Star to pair with LeBron James, the team has been connected to a slew of players who will be pat of a loaded 2019 free agency class.
Though, there’s also been plenty of speculation with respect to Anthony Davis. Long rumored to be an eventual target for the Lakers, the versatile big man added fuel to the fire over the summer when he joined Klutch Sports to be represented by Rich Paul.
He of course is also the agent of, business partner and close friends with James. The 16-year veteran caused a stir this week when acknowledging he would clearly like to have Davis as a Lakers teammate.
James did not make his comments unprompted but in response to a question. Nonetheless, it’s angered general managers of small-market teams, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
“It’s New Orleans’ problem today, and a problem with a different player tomorrow for the rest of us,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “It’s open season on small markets and our players.”
Another GM took aim at the league and how it enforces tampering rules:
“If these are the rules, enforce them,” one Western Conference GM told ESPN. “If you want to push Anthony Davis in L.A., if you allow LeBron to interfere with teams, then just do it. Change the rules, and say, ‘It’s the wild, wild west and anything goes.’ But give us a list of the rules that you’re enforcing, and give us a list of the rules that you’re going to ignore.”
A third general manager noted frustration with some teams and the sense that the NBA won’t take action even if the issue is raised:
“Interference is as bad as tampering — maybe worse in this case,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “This becomes a campaign meant to destabilize another organization, install chaos and unrest that make it harder to keep an environment that the player would want to stay in. There’s no use in complaining to the league about it. We all get that it’s a players’ league, but there are rules on the books that they need to follow, too.”
The Lakers as an organization were previously fined for tampering with Paul George ($50,000) and remarks president of basketball operations Magic Johnson made about Giannis Antetokounmpo ($500,000).
The Antetokounmpo situation was a bit peculiar, considering Johnson was touting him as being capable of winning a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks. NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained the fine was levied in large part because of the Lakers’ prior transgressions.
Although executives have been subject to tampering fines, players and coaches generally are permitted more latitude. Draymond Green openly admits he was recruiting Kevin Durant to sign with the Golden State Warriors throughout the 2016 season.
While it remains plausible the league could take action against James, it would appear to be an unlikely scenario. Meanwhile, Davis, who at the earliest can become a free agent after the 2019-20 season if he declines a player option, said he didn’t have much care for James’ comments.